tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 31, 2010 12:00am-1:00am EDT
it travels. even if we can't tell you the sound of two protons colliding, how about the sound of this? [ cheering ] >> geeks being very excited. that is the sight of totally geeked out physicists responding to colliding protons. 17 miles of magnetic track under the alps between france and switzerland. this morning, scientists were able tosend protons whipping around two tracks in opposite directions at 99.9% of the speed of light. then they crossed the streams, letting the protons collide with the combined force of seven trillion electron vaults. when they saw the first moment it was successful, they were so excited they couldn't even type
air. thanks for being with us tonight. "hardball is next" good night. bad vibes. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, fire on the right. is the right wing losing it in the last week we've seen threats at democratic members of congress, bricks thrown through democrat office windows, a skinhead pleading guilty to trying to kill then presidential candidate barack obama, and now the arrest of nine militia members in michigan. what's driving this stuff?
the acts of violence. real and planned, are the most violent example of the loss of political goodwill and cross the country. and here in washington president obama admitted on the "today" show this morning he's failed to become the post-partisan president he'd hoped to be. the question now, should he concede that the main body of republicans are simply not going to do anything to help him and just try to govern with either democrats, alone, or with the few republicans he can recruit for specific bills? plus, the republicans may be getting the long knives out for michael steele. sex club scandal latest embarrassment for the chairman. having won big races in virginia, new jersey, and massachusetts can republicans call steele incompetent? can they afford to let the drum beat of bad stories continue? also, president obama's poll numbers are up, but only a bit. tonight, why the president still has a lot of health care selling to do. and i'll finish tonight with some thoughts on the attempted assassination of president reagan, hard to believe, it was three decades ago today.
let's start with the fire on the right. brian levin, director for study of hate and extremism at california state university at san bernardino. mark podock with the southern poverty law center. mark, i want you to start. there have been things happen. here's what's happened in the past couple of days. nine members of the michigan-based militia were charged with plotting to kill a police officer and then to kill dozens more by setting off improvised explosive devices at the funeral. all in the hopes of igniting an uprising against the federal government. a philadelphia man was charged with threatening the life of house republican whip eric cantor and his family in a youtube rant that has since been taken down. this video is from an earlier message. fbi agents arrested the man saturday and he's currently held without bail pending a psychiatric evaluation. perhaps most troubling, just yesterday a white supremacist from tennessee pleaded guilty to plotting to kill them presidential candidate barack obama in 2008. it was to be the grand finale of the cross country killing spree aimed at african-americans. his co-defendant pled guilty in
january. well, there you have it. what is going on right now, mark, in this country? because it's not all right wing. much of it is. >> i mean, i think we are seeing out there a real explosion of rage, of fear, of frustration, and i think a great deal of it is being stoked not only by groups and ideas of the radical right, but by many people on the mainstream who are kind of feeding the flames. >> who? >> you know, it's good to see -- people like john boehner coming out and criticizing some of the talk. it is very much a day late and a dollar short at this point. you know, there are many things going on out there that have people extremely upset. >> do you think republican members of congress who waved the don't tread on me flag, which is a symbol of fighting tyranny, is good or bad in terms of calming things down? that was a flag used to fight an enemy imperial nation, london,
the british empire, which basically had us under its hoof. now it's being used to attack our own government. >> yeah. i mean, i think it's very symbolic of the sorry past that we have come to as a nation in terms of our political discourse. you know, the gadsten flag is very much also in contemporary society the flag of the militia movement. it's to don't mess with us, you know? it really implies, don't mess with us at the point of a gun. so no, i don't think they should be waiving the gadston flag. i don't think they should be talking about watering the tree of liberty with patriots and tyrants. i don't think they should be talking about death panels and secret invasion plans by mexico. i think all of these things merely stoke up the fear out there and fear leads quickly to frustration and ultimately to rage. i think that rage is reflected
in some of the events you mentioned in your introduction. >> to follow that thought, brian, i heard the lingo, too. when i hear bill mccollum running for office down in florida talking about, you know, what's he saying? things like -- anyway, the language of this thing is just continuing. he's talking about -- i'm sorry, that the health care bill is an invasion of the sovereignty of florida. you have the texas governor running for re-election, renomination saying he's for secession. the language of nullification. these are the words used in the civil war days before the civil war. your thoughts? >> i think you're absolutely right. look, 51% of republicans said that president obama wants to turn the country over to a one-world government. 22% said he wants the terrorists to win. this is very disturbing. this is not the give and take we saw back when you were involved in politics on capitol hill where tip o'neill and ronald reagan would have a drink together after a legislative tussle. what i'm worried about is if
folks are looking at legislative losses, not as a natural part of the ebb and flow of the political process, but leveeing a war. this is a problem when you hook in a combination of this intense division. sprinkle some contorted view of faith and religion in there and then look at the enemies not as being some foreign communist but, indeed, our political institutions and leaders, ourselves. by the way, almost a similar number of folks on the left said that president bush, for instance, could be or is the antichrist. to those on the right who say president obama is or could be the antichrist. almost 20%. >> here's the president along those lines, brian, mark. let's listen to the president. he's not quite talking about the far right, but he's talking about some of the problem here on, say, pretty far right. here he is. let's listen.
>> there's some folks who just, you know, weren't sure whether i was born in the united states, whether i was a socialist, right? so there's that segment of it which i think is just dug in ideologically. then i think there's a broader circle around that core group of people who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much. and so i wouldn't paint in broad brush and say that everybody who's involved or have gone to a tea party rally or meeting are somehow on the fringe. some of them i think have some mainstream legitimate concerns. >> well you know, mark, that's not fanning the flames. that's trying to understand. to disaggregate the people in those crowds. i mean a lot of them are just
there because they are upset about big government. that's an old republican and old american concern getting government too big. it's very homegrown and very normal and i think healthy to be skeptical about the power of government. there are people who have taken up arms, worry about the black helicopters, who think the government -- not that it's a problem, but the government is the enemy, it's foreign, that it's almost like the old kremlin wall. they think of it as hostile. when did that start? mark? >> well, i think one could make the argument that that really began with ronald reagan and the description of the federal government as a kind of enemy. it was very much ginned up through the decades by talk radio and so on. we saw the first iteration, it seems to me, of real focused rage against the federal government in the 1990s when the militia movement took that standard and brought it to new heights or really depths. you know, that, as we all know, culminated in the murder of 168 people in oklahoma city back in 1995. >> let me go through to brian. you've not been on the show before.
tell me what you think is coming. i do believe there's dangers when the zeitgeist begins to get nasty. the people from the left begin to operate, the right wings are the one who stirred things up. you saw that with the threat against mr. cantor from virginia, by that philadelphia guy. maybe he's disturbed. we'll find that out as the psychiatric report is given. it seems like, lee harvey oswald shot jack kennedy, a man of the far left, castro guy, killed kennedy at the time the right wing was the big danger. guys get stirred up and all kinds of big things happen. your thoughts as an expert. >> i think you're absolutely right. let me compliment what my friend mark said. i think you can trace this back to the 1790s with the whisky rebellion. yeah, i think for the most recent history mark is right and i also think president obama is right. 67% of republicans say he's a socialist.
i think you have hit a very important point here. that is this is not merely a splintering of the right. by the way, there are many, many people of goodwill, as you pointed out, who are conservatives who have plausible and legitimate reasons for being concerned. the problem is the folks who opt out. i think you also and president obama hit an important note as well. that is we don't classify the tea party movement and extremist movement because it's so diverse. do you have extremists within the tea party movement? absolutely. you also have people legitimately concerned about the growth of government and deficits. what i think is important here is that once the atmosphere exchanged, as you suggested, this can really become a license for people on all sides of the spectrum, whether it be animal liberation people on the left, or these militia folks on the right, to take, say, you know what, we don't have a stake in this. together let's divide and conquer. i don't mean in a political sense.
i mean in a violent sense. that's why i'm really worried about people taking this to a new level. >> i do worry about it. i think it's a national -- it's almost atmospheric. here's the attorney general on the michigan militia people that have been indicted. "thankfully this alleged plot has been thwarted and a severe blow dealt to a dangerous organization that today stands accused of conspireing to levy war against the united states." you know, mark, that's the question. when we go to law breaking, violence, people who have organize the together and go beyond parties or sitting around talking, having a beer together and crankily angry words are thrown around and nasty attitudes are there. but then you go beyond that, let's do something about it. where are we on that? >> well, i think we're seeing increasing manifestations of that kind of criminal violence. you know, it's worth remembering that since obama was nominated you mentioned daniel cowwart, the white supremacist who pled guilty to the plot to assassinate obama.
there was another racist skinhead plot, albeit half baked during the democratic national convention. there was a man very shortly after obama was elected, before he was inaugurated who was found to be building a dirty bomb in maine to set off at the inauguration. there was another man who the day after obama was inaugurated started to murder black people in boston because he thought the white race was subjected to a genocide. he read this on white supremacist websites. you know, we see now the uderae militia, we see the assassination of the guard at the holocaust museum. the murder of george tiller. i can only show this anecdotally. it almost feels like domestic terrorism is on the uptick and certainly attempted domestic terrorism is.
>> guys, i can remember exactly the zeitgeist of 129 1963, i'll say no more. i felt it. i know what it feels like. we're not quite there, but that spitting on people. we'll get to more on that on the show today. spitting on people like adelaide stevenson and members of congress is the first step toward real violence. thank you very much. i wish you weren't here on such a terrible subject. coming up, the republican national committee approved $2,000 payment of the sex theme nightclub. another embarrassment for party chairman michael steele. however, steele has a good winning record this year. [ crowd gasps ] [ announcer ] if you think about it, this is a lot like most job search sites.
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welcome back to "hardball." the republican national committee has fired that person responsible for approving a reimbursement to a california consultant for nearly $2,000 tab at a los angeles sex themed nightclub. the latest embarrassment for the rnc during the rein of michael steele. our friend jonathan martin of politico sums it up -- "it has become almost retune. there is some controversy surrounding steele republican professionals are embarrassed, some of them gripe about the latest episode, then they move on until it happens again" p.m. well, can the former secretary of state in ohio. you have to look at this one of
two ways. ken. he has the patience of job or just has bad luck, or as somebody once said, he's a bull that carries his china shop around with him. michael steele just gets into these stupid problems and they just continue. here's some other stuff that's happened under steele's leadership. just to let you know, this isn't the only problem. he called abortion a choice, which democrats agree. republicans as a party don't. he called rush limbaugh incendiary on cnn, something democrats may well agree with but republicans don't generally. he told sean hannity republicans probably would not take back the house this year. he had to defend having the rnc's winter meeting in hawaii during a tough economy. this stuff keeps happening. is it his fault? >> well, look, it's happening on his watch. in january of 2009 the 168-member republican national committee chose michael steele to be its chairman for a
two-year term. i don't think that anything is going to change in terms of the chairmanship until next january if it changes at all. as you know, he has some wins under his belt. and there is a real issue of whether or not this is another distraction from what the rnc is in business to do. chris, we have over 3,400 counties across this nation. they have precincts within those counties. our job or the rnc's job is to rebuild the party from the grassroots up in all 50 states. we got our clocks cleaned in the last presidential election because we were playing catchup. so the senatorial committee, the congressional committee will take care of political and legislative affairs.
it is the rnc's job to rebuild the party, to make sure we have strong precinct executives, county chairmen, state chairmen so we can start winning elections. we have a historic opportunity to win over 50 seats this time around. we can't blow it, because we are apologizing or explaining -- our leadership is explaining this sort of nonsense. >> that sounds very compelling. it's what i would say if i were applying for the job. is that what you're doing? >> absolutely not. >> it sounds like you're applying to be michael steele's replacement. >> no. that's what you would like for me to do. the fact is -- >> no, it sounds like you're doing it verbatim. >> look, no. i am the co-chairman of the rnc's redistricting committee. my job is to work with john rider, the chairman, to make sure that we're in the position of keeping the pens that will draw the maps of congressional district in our party's hands for competitive advantage.
pure and simple. that is a full plate. you ask me a question as someone that is involved in the party and i gave you an honest answer. we must make sure we are not distracted from the business at hand and the charge of the republican national committee. >> right. is michael steele a distraction? >> i can tell you what is a distraction. having to explain these weird expenditures, having to explain that we are not highrollers and high flyers and duplicitous leaders. that is a distraction, and it is michael's responsibility to make sure that we do away with those distractions and we do away with incompetence and we do away with those who would spend money unwisely. >> okay, let's talk --
>> that's what we needs to take a step for. >> bob woodward of the water gate fame once said, follow the money. he started with $22 million at the rnc. he has $9 million now. that's down about $10 million. it's not just he's down around $10 million, he brought in $96 during that period. $106 million gone out the door has been burnt in the last year. >> chris, chris -- >> has it been spent wisely? >> chris, let's go back to what you said just in your last segment. the fact of the matter is that success has a thousand fathers. so i'm sure that michael will take credit for virginia, new jersey, and massachusetts. at least part credit. so as a consequence there has been success. the rnc is not a bank. we have to spend money in order to win elections. the question is, how are we spending the money? that's why this is such a distraction. because one, there's no way that you can explain that a stripper club expenditure is helping
build a grassroot organization in any county in the country. >> do you understand the responsibility as rnc chairman, is it to make sure -- does he have a fiduciary responsibility? in other words, if somebody writes a check and turns it in and says, i just paid $2,000 to go to the voyeur club, is it the chairman's responsibility to have people in place who will see that bill and say, no way in hell should this rnc, should the donors that kick into this party have to pay for that? is it his responsibility -- >> yes. >> okay. so it's michael steele's responsibility to make sure this kind of crap doesn't happen. >> look, but this -- >> yes or no? >> this is nothing -- chris, can you hear? i said yes. and i said -- this is not unique to michael steele. any executive officer, chief executive officer is responsible for the processees and personnel he has in place to maintain the fiscal integrity of his
organization. >> ken black well, have you a tough situation to be in, i've made it worse for you. but, sir, this is a tricky matter for your party. i do like michael steele. somebody's on his path or he keeps screwing up, i'm not sure which it is. maybe it's both. thank you very much. up next, what does karl rove think about the latest gaffe? what's the latest gaffe over there will at the rnc? we've just been talking about it. jay leno asked karl rove what he thinks of this 2,000 bucks for this sex club paid for by your republican contributions. (announcer) regular kool-aid. goes almost three times further than soda. kool aid. delivering more smiles per gallon.
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consultant for $2,000 in charges at a sex-themed nightclub in hollywood. what does karl rove, the republican mastermind think of all this? last night on "jay leno" we got the answer. >> i've been waiting to get your opinion. michael steele and this $2,000 at the bondage nightclub. what was that all about? >> somebody ought to lose their credit card. their rnc credit card. find that pervert and get his card. >> have you been to that club? i'm curious? >> look, man, come on, no. >> karl, let's go tonight, you and i, we'll go to the club. >> no, no. >> god, that pervert? nice language, karl. anyway, mr. rove, however, did find excitement of another sort. yesterday in beverly hills, an activist from code pink tried to make a citizens arrest of karl rove for being a war criminal. rove calls it evidence of what he called the totalitarinism
from the left. next, a backhand congratulations, here's what french president nicolas sarkozy told students at a university, "welcome to the club of states who don't turn their back on the sick and the poor." well, he said it in french, but i think we could hear the smirk. by the way, france's first couple took time this afternoon to enjoy a washington, d.c., staple, ben's chili bowl. you can see sarkozy with his wife, the glamorous carla brunei and the french president's two sons, not exactly nouvelle cuisine. anyway, it's hot dogs smothered in chile. i bet he's going on a fast for a week. finally, credit where credit's due, mitt romney trying to do everything he can to distance himself from the national health care reform bill. president obama doing everything he can to tie him to it. here he is with matt lauer, the president, on the "today" show. >> when you actually look at the bill, itself, it incorporates all sorts of republican ideas.
i mean, a lot of commentators have said, this is sort of similar to the bill that mitt romney, the republican governor and now presidential candidate, passed in massachusetts. >> yeah, lay it off on some commentator. did you notice the twinkle in the president's eye as he made that tweak of romney? that's the "sideshow." up next, president obama admits he hasn't solved the problems of the political culture in washington, d.c., yet. no republicans voted with him on health care. and john mccain promises no cooperation for the rest of the year. mccain is running in a tough primary out there. should the president give up the goal of grand partisanship? we'll see, when we come back. take care of your engine and it'll go far. one way i can take care of my engine? one a day men's -- a complete multivitamin for my overall health.
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refusing to report on comments that an iranian nuclear scientist defected to america. he disappeared on a trip to saudi arabia back in june. russian investigators have identified at least three alleged accomplices seen with the bombers just before the explosions. police in washington, d.c., have three suspects in custody after a deadly drive by shooting with an automatic rifle. three people were killed, six more seriously wounded. rainfall records are breaking across the northeast. this is the wettest march on record in new york city and rhode island, where the swollen pawtuxet river is expected to swell.
welcome back to hardball, as we all know, president obama campaigned on bipartisanship, but he conceded he hasn't been able to concur the polarization here in this nation's capital. >> there's something about the political culture here in washington that is a chronic problem. i haven't solved it yet. >> well the president went on to say that he does think it's possible to overcome the political divide. but here's what senator john mccain said, just last week after the health care reform bill became law. >> there will be no cooperation for the rest of this year. they have poisoned the well in what they have done and how they have done it. >> wow, so should president obama credit republicans for being obstructionists and abandon the pursuit of grand partisanship?
chris cillizza is "washington post" reporter and new york magazine's co-author, joe halperin and co-authors of "game change." let me narrow this discussion. what it sounds to me like the president is saying is no more hopes of a big meeting with him and mitch mcconnell and john boehner, agreeing to lock arms and do it together. but he still needs to get two or three republicans on most bills to get something done on the following. if he's going to need to kick butt on wall street, he needs a couple of republicans. if he's going to do something on immigration he needs lindsay graham from south carolina and a couple of other guys. at least one other republican. he can't give up on statistically needing some republicans. what's he going to give up on? >> he can't give up on symbolically needing some republicans. remember, one of the key components of barack obama getting elected was i can make washington work again. i think he has a huge belief in his ability to bring people together. i think that's why he was so out front, cocktail parties, courting republicans. i think he was, frankly, surprised at the reaction, particularly on health care and a little bit of economic stimulus.
so i think congressional democrats have a different agenda than barack obama. barack obama is about fundamentally getting re-elected and getting things accomplished during these two years that he can go sell to the american people. he needs republicans, as you point out, to do that. congressional democrats on the other hand are about november 2010, they have much a much shorter timetable and they want him to be a little more partisan, get the base fired up. say republicans are blocking. you know, they need a fired up base, if anything health care did, it clearly fired up their base. they need the fired-up base to match the intensity of the republicans heading into the midterms. >> yeah, he starts smashing republican heads, he's not going to get anyone to join him at all, it seems to me. let me throw this at you, mr. celebrity, i don't understand why the republicans can't get uekered into a deal where they
go for a big jobs bill. not this puny, $15 billion. put the road builders out there. start bidding stuff. put lots, millions of people to work and get through this recession. just do it and dare the republicans not to join them. why don't they do that? is this pat moynihan thinking or what? >> that's pat moynihan thinking for you and i respect it as such. the republicans don't like big government. they think they're going to run in the midterms. >> but they love jobs and appropriations. >> they want to blame the jobless recovery on obama and they can't be in favor of somebody that spends a lot more money and balloons the deficit. . that's a big issue. but you're right. everything that chris said is exactly right and more important than that, is obama believes in this. he wants republicans on the bill because he believes it would be good for the country to have some unity in terms of trying to solve big problems. the thing that works to his advantage now is he's coming at a lot of these issues, from a position of strength rather than a position of weakness. he was trying to get republicans to come on to a health care bill a lot of the country didn't like. on the wall street stuff the
country wants the government to get tough on wall street. >> i want to go back to chris on this. don't republican members of congress want to be seen standing side by side with anybody to kick the butt of the rich guys who grabbed the bonuses and all that bailout money and don't seem to have an ounce of apology in their beings up there in new york? >> yes. look, i think you would, obama would do well to push more things like that, chris. because remember, what you want, what health care, republicans won't say this publicly, because they don't want to admit to it but what health care did was unify a very fractious party. what did we focus on for the last year? why can't democrats get this done? they have the white house. they have congress. why can't they get more done? well, meanwhile, republicans, they found a common theme to unite behind in health care. i think he, obama can splinter them up by picking some issues like this. because some of them, look, there are plenty of republicans who represent states where they need to be for some of these things, they can't simply stand in opposition. states and districts, i would say. he needs to pick and choose those sorts of things. >> find ways you can suck them in. by the way, that was the president today signing the reconciliation piece to tweak
the two health bills. check out what president obama said about working with republicans. let's listen. >> what i've tried to say throughout is i will continually reach out to republicans. i will continue to incorporate their ideas, even when they don't vote for the ideas that i've presented. but what i'm not going to be dissuaded from is us going ahead and taking on these big challenges that are critical in terms of america's long-term economic health. >> okay. enough of bipartisanship. here's some nasty partisanship. at least it's from a heckler, a very unhappy guy. you're watching emmanuel cleaver. see that guy, he's a member of congress. he swatted back a guy, it looks like he spat on him. he continues up. he's really angry, this member of congress. that guy did something with his mouth. watch this. he's still angry at the guy.
watch his right hand now. you know -- you want to watch that again? there he is again, that guy did something to him right there. i think it was worse than yelling something nasty at him. he hit him on side of the face with spittle or something, intentional or not. chris cillizza, i can only interpret that one of two ways. either he actively spat on the guy, the member of congress, which he may well have done. or he did what i guess mad comics used to call when your mouth spittles while you're talking. >> there's a very fine line between anger and passion that can be directed against someone and people have a right to be angry if they disagree in crossing a line. i think we've seen some of these incidents of crossing the line of late, this being one of them. it's a hard thing, chris, because passion in politics is what both sides want. they want their supporters to be both energetic for their side, and energetic to go defeat the other side. that's what elections are about,
getting your base out voting. the problem is at what point do you cross the line where that energy is both destructive to the general conversation, the body politic and dangerous to individuals? it's just a very hard line to walk. you know, it's one thing to throw tomatoes at politicians like they did the last 200, 300 years. spitting on a guy, that's what they did to adlai stevenson in dallas before kennedy was shot. it's a real sign of contempt. >> chris is right. it's a hard line to walk and it's a hard line to locate. but i think -- >> there's a big difference between yelling and spitting. >> that scene we've gone on the wrong side of the line. i tell you what that picture looks like to me. it looks to me, it has this resonance of the deep south during the civil rights movement. >> when the young women were being integrated. >> this african-american congressman walking along here next to an all-white crowd. somebody spitting on the guy. it's very -- >> look at this guy, he won't even quit yelling, either. he's just -- >> it looks like the scene from a different generation. it looks like a scene, not what you think america is supposed to look like 2010.
>> one of those pictures the other day, a woman down in little rock, chris, little rock back in '57 when they were integrating little rock central high school. with the wicked look of anger, contorted face. look at this guy. he won't stop. and he knows this is where the chicken aspect of this is, he knows that guy can't do anything about it because he's a public figure. he knows, chris, that congressman has to just take it. >> chris there's, again, john is right. i think we all grapple with these issues. there's a fine line between having the right to express your opinions, which is in the constitution, you get, you get, if you don't like the health care bill, you get to call your member of congress or tell your member of congress you don't like it. but then there's the human decency aspect of it. that you don't get to stand a foot from someone and throw a brick through their window. the line-drawing is the problem. >> chris, i have great respect for your ability to forecast. will there be a moment between now and november where we will see bipartisanship on the grand scale on something? >> not on a grand scale, chris, because nothing happens on the
grand scale in election years, particularly after they've passed -- i think they would have liked health care not to have been in 2010. it wound up being there. i think we'll see some small-bore measures like this jobs bill that went through a month ago, i think we'll see more stuff like that, but nothing grand. >> we'll do something on wall street because they have to do it with a couple of republicans. corker and maybe judd gregg. nothing big-time. >> maybe on education you'll get a few republicans. republicans, the party has gone all in on the strategy of oppositionalism. it's too late for them to turn back now. i think he will get a few, strip off a few republicans on a couple of these issues, especially where some of his policies are more conservative, like on education. but it's not going to be half of the republicans. a third of the republicans. >> i think it's a big mistake. they've got, they should be proposing some things on jobs. anyway, thank you. chris cillizza, congratulations. i'm a little envious, but that's normal. especially in this city. up next, what about the bounce in the polls the
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we're back. after months and months of fighting, president obama and the democratic party turned a health care reform bill into the law of the land. but a week after signing the bill, the pollster.com average for president obama's job approval has him absolutely even. about 48% are approving him and about 48% disapproving him. should there be a bounce? in fact, those numbers don't really show much change. will the mood improve for the president and his party down the road? susan page is the washington bureau chief for "u.s.a. today." and josh gershstein is a reporter for politico. very important journals, both of you. these are the latest numbers, looking at them all. a few major polls taken before and after, these are before and after numbers show what's
happened. cnn's poll has the president up eight. and since he signed the bill. the "washington post"/abc poll has him up five since passing the bill. and gallup, which is the oldest of pollsters and the most recognized, has no action. i guess i'm going to go to susan page with cnn, to express that eight points. your thoughts, season. >> the usa today/gallop poll has his approval rating up a point. but his disapproval rating up to an all time high. we showed a little bit of a bounce the day after the house vote, but in the poll we took over the weekend, we found that attitudes toward the health care bill haven't changed since before it was passed and it continues to be something people are skeptical about. i think they have an uphill selling job to do. >> let me go to josh on that very question. does this require the president,
if he wants a bounce, he's got to earn it? it's not there yet? >> i think that's right, he has to come out and continue to sell the bill. remember, the white house has said they're planning a hard pivot here to move on to jobs and some of these other issues like the financial regulatory reform and beating up the banks on wall street. it's not clear how much time the president is going to spend trying to sell health care reform, when they have these other issues people on the hill are desperate for them to move on to. >> that could be a danger. when they push through the big stimulus or jobs bill when they first came in, most economists, in fact, every economist that ever taught us in school said they had to do it. and, yes, they lost the argument, the bailout became a bad word, stimulus became a bad word, they were never able to make it tangible as a kitchen table issue. they could never sell people on the fact that it was helping him. if he let's this slip by, and let's the bang bang bang of
negative publicity accrue again like it did on the stimulus. >> the battle is just not over. in our poll, people were inclined to think the health care bill was going to be good for america as a whole, but not them and their families. it was going to drive up their costs and quality of health care. those are issues you have to address. people from the 40 most competitive held districts, they need this argument to be made and made for the next six months that the health care bill is really good for you and your family. >> i don't want to spin for the president, it seems to me based upon all my evidence, the democrats look a lot happier this week than they did two weeks ago. you see it in the mood, in the way the president was able to talk to netanyahu in the middle of the night. the way he was able to visit
karzai in afghanistan. it wasn't there a week or two ago, and it seems to me the republican party is not that happy, they wish they had beaten him on health care. no matter what they say, they wanted to beat him, and they couldn't. how do those moods improve for the democrats and republicans not get reflected in these polls? >> i think you're right, the mojo has changed here. you have a lot of people comparing before and after, what do obama's numbers look like now compared to what they were just before the vote. that's not a valid comparison. if this bill had gone down, if the president's signature initiative had failed, imagine what his numbers would be now. he would be somewhere in the 20s, probably. i think it's a little misleading to be looking at the before and after numbers when the question is, how terrible this would have looked if the situation had collapsed around him. >> do democrats who are running a tough district. you know, the districts that
voted for mccain, do they want the president to come and campaign for him as of now? >> i think some of them do, some of them don't. they would like the president to raise some money for them. all democrats who are running in november would be help if the president got his approval rating up. we know that for congressional races, the president's approval rating when he's in your party makes a difference for how you do. >> susan page, thank you. when we return, i'm going to have thoughts about the assassination attempt on president reagan, which happened it 29 years ago today. three decades. hey bets, can i borrow a quarter? sure, still not dry? i'm trying to shrink them. i lost weight and now some clothes are too big. how did you do it? simple stuff. eating right and i switched to whole grain. whole grain... [ female announcer ] people who eat more whole grain tend to have a healthier body weight. multigrain cheerios has five whole grains and 110 calories per serving. multigrain cheerios. try new chocolate cheerios with a touch of delicious chocolate taste in every bite.
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